With the cost of living rising across Ontario, everyone is looking to save a few bucks where they can.
As a homeowner, home energy efficiency upgrades are one way to shave money off your bills short and long-term and potentially increase your home’s value in the process.
But, as with any home upgrade, you’ll want to know the return on your investment.
To help, here’s how long it’ll take for the most common energy-efficiency upgrades to pay you back in full.
The most obvious visual upgrade, solar panels tend to be polarizing: they can provide great long-term energy savings, but they’re often cost-prohibitive and, sometimes, not the most visually appealing addition to a home’s exterior.
You can expect to invest around $15,000-25,000 to install a solar panel system. With the average electricity bill in Ontario running around $130/month, a solar panel system could pay itself off in as few as 10 years, but it would be safer to expect a 10-20 year payback period.
That said, with energy costs rising, you never know; an investment in solar today could pay off faster than you think. And, there are signs that homes with solar are becoming more attractive to prospective buyers looking to save a few bucks after buying.
Still, it’s a big investment: do your research, understand your home’s exposure to sunlight, know your energy costs and how much solar could save you specifically — and get 3-5 quotes.
As we discussed in our home improvement ROI article, you can expect to recoup around 68.6% of your new window costs when you sell — not too shabby!
And, given that 25%-30% of your heating and cooling costs are closely associated with your windows, you also stand to save some money month to month by upgrading. Based on energy savings alone, new windows could pay you back in as few as 14 years.
But, like solar panels, windows can be expensive — especially if you’re replacing all of them. If your windows are in good working order, a wholesale change may not be in your best interest as your net energy savings will be lower.
As always, speak with an expert (or three).
And now, we delve into the less expensive upgrades!
Attic insulation isn’t cheap per se, costing around $1,500 or more depending on your home — and there are different types and levels of insulation quality to consider. But, depending on your home, you could save upwards of 30% on your heating bill which, as you know from living through Southern Ontario winters, adds up quickly between December and March.
Depending on your home’s size, the current state of your insulation, and the amount of heat you’re currently losing, upgrading your attic insulation could pay you back within three years but in as few as 6 months.
Also, this is an investment that tends to pay for itself when you sell. While not atop the home improvement ROI list in 2021, only a few years ago attic insulation had the best resale payback at 107.7% ROI.
LED lighting has come down in price significantly over the years (you can grab a 12-pack from Home Depot for around $20!).
They’re up to 75% more energy-efficient and last up to 25x longer than your typical bulb.
This is a simple investment that can pay for itself in less than a year.
They’re not cheap, but smart thermostats tend to pay for themselves rather quickly.
According to some estimates, you can save up to $200/year by properly programming your thermostat. And, with the ability to control your home’s temperature remotely, you can easily avoid energy waste (and excess costs) when away from your home.
When you add it all up, you can expect a smart thermostat to pay for itself within a year or two.
Do Your Due Diligence
While the benefits of saving energy aren’t restricted only to money savings (the environment and energy grid will no doubt appreciate your efforts), you don’t want to invest blindly.
Some of these upgrades are no-brainers. But, when making any major investment to increase efficiency, you’ll want to understand the condition of your existing equipment, be clear on your monthly energy costs, then speak with experts about whether or not a specific efficiency upgrade makes sense.
Also, you’ll want to investigate government programs that may subsidize your home improvement costs. While these shouldn’t be the reason to invest, if now is the time to improve your home’s efficiency, these programs could dramatically increase your ROI.